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Tigers Hang On For 5-4 Win Over A's

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[May 30, 2014]  OAKLAND, Calif. -- When the Detroit Tigers took the field for the bottom of the ninth inning on Thursday afternoon with a 5-2 lead over the Oakland A's, Joe Nathan came out of the bullpen looking for his 13th save and some redemption.

The Detroit closer gave up two runs and three hits, and the A's had runners on first and second base when he retired pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie for the third out, preserving a 5-4 victory.

Nathan got the save less than 24 hours after he gave up a three-run, walk-off homer to third baseman Josh Donaldson in a 3-1 Oakland win on Wednesday night, but redemption will have to wait.

"Just the last couple games haven't been vintage Joe Nathan," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "The truth is he got the save today. I'm sure it's not the way Joe wanted it to go, but he got the save, which is the important thing."

Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings and second baseman Ian Kinsler paced an 11-hit attack with two doubles at Coliseum.

The Tigers, who lead the American League Central, salvaged a split in the four-game series with Oakland, which leads the AL West.

Nathan declined to answer questions after the game.

"You guys can go get the guys that did their part," Nathan said. "You can write whatever you want."

The Tigers produced plenty of offense. Kinsler went 2-for-5, scored twice and drove in one run. Designated hitter Victor Martinez went 2-for-4 with a two-run double, raising his AL-leading average to .344.

Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera drove in two runs and scored once. Right fielder Don Kelly and third baseman Nick Castellanos each had two hits for the Tigers, who entered the game batting an AL-best .273.

The Tigers scored three runs in six innings against A's right-hander Jesse Chavez and added two runs in the seventh on Martinez's two-run double off struggling A's reliever Jim Johnson.

"He's pitching well," Kelly said of Chavez. "We were just able to scratch some runs across. But we were able to come through there and tack on two more with Victor's double that turned out to be pretty big."

Donaldson greeted Nathan with a leadoff double in the ninth and scored on left fielder Yoenis Cespedes' one-out single. Then with two outs, right fielder Josh Reddick roped an RBI double to right-center field. Nathan walked shortstop Nick Punto, but he retired Lowrie on a ground ball to Cabrera.

"If Joe's on, you're going to have quick outs," Ausmus said. "He's been one of the best closers. He had an unbelievable year last year. If he's on, he'll get quick outs. It just wasn't today."

Punto hit his first home run for the Athletics, a two-run shot in the fourth inning, and walked three times. But the A's left 14 runners on base. They loaded the bases twice and came away without a run both times.

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"We had plenty of opportunities," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We had some situational at-bats where we didn't come through."

Porcello (8-2), coming off his worst start of the season on Saturday against Texas, allowed five hits, walked six and struck out four. He put at least two runners on base in every inning except a 1-2-3 third.

"It's no secret I was all over the place and fortunate to get out of some of the innings I got out of," Porcello said. "That being said, I was proud of the way I battled out of some of those things."

Porcello left the game with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth, but reliever Ian Kroll retired pinch-hitter Derek Norris on a pop fly to Cabrera in foul territory.

Chavez (4-3) allowed eight hits and suffered his second straight loss. He struck out three, walked two and had at least one runner on base in five of the six innings he pitched.

Johnson gave up two runs and three hits as his ERA climbed to 6.55

"Balls are finding holes," Johnson said. "I'm throwing pretty good pitches. I just feel like I'm in a little bit of bad luck. I don't think it's as bad as it really seems. I think everybody else thinks that way."

NOTES: Oakland SS Jed Lowrie was out of the starting lineup on Thursday for just the sixth time this season but pinch hit in the ninth inning, grounding out for the final out. INF Nick Punto, who missed the previous five games with a strained left calf, started in Lowrie's place. "He's still dealing a little bit with his neck issue," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Lowrie before the game. ... Tigers OF Rajai Davis (left shoulder contusion) was out of the starting lineup. He was injured Wednesday while making a diving catch in the second inning but stayed in the game until the bottom of the seventh. He is day to day. ... A's RHP Ryan Cook (right forearm strain) threw his second bullpen session since going on the disabled list May 8 and said he expects to begin a rehab assignment on Saturday with Class A Stockton.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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